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‘Baby Shark’ Has 10 Billion Views. For Parents, That Is 10 Billion Too Many.

BY JOSEPH PISANI | UPDATED JAN 15, 2022 07:00 AM EST

Simple, repetitive lyrics have helped make the song a favorite with toddlers and given it global staying power

In her first days of preschool, Brianne Pryor’s toddler was exposed to two things: “Baby Shark" and hand, foot and mouth disease.

“Both are annoying," said Ms. Pryor, 33 years old. “But I’ll take hand, foot and mouth disease over ‘Baby Shark’ any day of the week."

“Baby Shark," the song and YouTube video about a family of colorful cartoon sharks, has brought joy to kids and pain to parents. The 2-minute video, posted in 2016, is still spreading. It surpassed 10 billion views on YouTube this week, the first video to do so.

Ms. Pryor said she can’t escape “Baby Shark," even in the supermarket, where her 2-year-old spots the fictional fish on cakes or balloons. “We will never not know ‘Baby Shark’ again," the Richmond, Va., mom said.

Priya Kumar shields her 3-year-old from the cartoon sharks. When a “Baby Shark" book somehow ended up in her daughter’s possession, Ms. Kumar fished it out and donated it to the library.

“There are no signs of ‘Baby Shark’ in our house," said Ms. Kumar, 35, who works in health tech in New York and also finds the song annoying. “We literally act like it doesn’t exist."

The song is said to have started as a camp song and became a world-wide phenomenon after the Pinkfong Co., of South Korea, turned it into a two-minute video in 2016. Since then the sharks’ tales have been turned into a movie, a television series and a live show.

They’ve been stamped on almost everything: cereal boxes, umbrellas, toothbrushes, Band-Aids and Super Pooper potties. The company behind them even bit into the NFT craze, selling a collection of nonfungible tokens for the first time last month.

Children love the song for the same reason parents hate it: the repetition, said Beatriz Ilari, an associate professor of music education at the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music. “Parents get sick and tired of it, but they don’t," she said about kids.

The simple lyrics—“Baby shark, doo-doo-doo-doo-doo-doo"—make it easy to understand around the world, said Ms. Ilari. And being on YouTube means it can be accessed anywhere, anytime, whenever a kid asks for it.

Another reason for its success: The song is easy to tweak for schools that want to teach kids new names or parents who want to get their little ones to eat their veggies.

“Eat your broccoli, too-too-too-too-too-too," is a rendition Ms. Ilari has heard.

Some grown-ups have embraced “Baby Shark." In 2019, baseball player Gerardo Parra from the Washington Nationals requested the song when he went to bat, prompting fans in the stadium to chomp with their hands.

“Baby Shark" is also a rallying cry for a fictional soccer player in Apple TV+’s streaming show “Ted Lasso."

Elon Musk, chief executive of electric car company Tesla Inc., tweeted about the video last year, saying it has more views than there are humans on earth: “Baby Shark crushes all!" he said.

And someone paid $56,290.29 for a psychedelic “Baby Shark" NFT that plays a clip of the song in a loop.

Before hitting the 10 billion mark, Pinkfong said “Baby Shark" was the most viewed YouTube video for 15 months, after it surpassed Luis Fonsi’s 2017 “Despacito" music video in November 2020.

The company indicated that “Baby Shark" isn’t done growing.

“We can’t wait to introduce Baby Shark’s further adventures," Pinkfong Chief Executive Min-seok Kim said.

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